Commodities and Colonialism: The Story of Big Sugar in by G. Roger Knight

By G. Roger Knight

Sugar the previous day used to be what oil is this day: a commodity of enormous international value whose tentacles reached deep into politics, society and economic system. Indonesia’s colonial-era sugar is basically forgotten this day, other than via a small variety of local experts writing for a consultant viewers. in the course of the interval 1880-1942 lined by way of this e-book, even though, the then Netherlands Indies used to be one of many world’s very maximum producer-exporters of the commodity. the way it contrived to take action is the tale offered during this book.
Author G. Roger Knight, affiliate professor of heritage within the collage of Adelaide, has researched the heritage of Indonesia’s sugar for greater than twenty-five years, utilizing unpublished archival assets in either the Netherlands and Indonesia. His seek has taken him into govt documents, relations histories and – specifically – the vast surviving papers of the Dutch sugar businesses who operated in Indonesia in the course of the overdue colonial period. the result's an image of the that provides vital new insights into its background and its position within the framework of world commodity construction over a interval extending over 3 quarters of a century.

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Extra resources for Commodities and Colonialism: The Story of Big Sugar in Indonesia, 1880-1942

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24 BSHK to Swire, 21-4-1922, ‘Refinery Letters 1922’, in: JSSI 1/1. The Chinese engineers formed a guild at Taikoo, and early in 1922, had successfully threatened a walk-off in support of a sacked colleague. 25 See, for example, Swire to BSHK, 9-11-1922 and BSHK to Swire 22-9-1922, ‘Refinery Letters 1922’, in: JSSI 1/1. 26 Scott to Mackintosh, 17-10-1890, in: JSSI 1/9. 28 At its heavily industrialized heart, Taikoo boasted a complex of machinery consisting of filters and clarifiers, pressurized condensers, no less than five vacuum pans (Havemeyer and Elder had six – one contemporary account speaks of them as ‘kolossale’)29 and an extensive array of centrifuges.

This seems about right. Some two decades later, at the beginning of the 1920s, without much expansion in the meantime, Taikoo’s daily melt capacity was said to be around 9,000 picul, or 544 MT, and weekly output around 3,244 MT of refined sugar. See BSHK to Swire, 102-1922, Sugar Refinery Letters JSSI 1/1. 35 escaping oligopoly: the java producers and overseas refiners Java’s colonial sugar factories had, of course, long been associated with overseas refiners. Indeed, the refining of their sugar in Holland and subsequently in the UK had been the mainstay of their business during the middle decades of the nineteenth century.

All in all, it was no accident that, as imported factory white began to take a firm hold on the subcontinent, khand production went into a pronounced decline. 63 Initially, as we have seen, this sugar came from Mauritius. By the closing decades of the century, however, a different kind of factory Indian sugar industry 1902; and as quoted in Kraaij 1903:24. By the 1920s, khand was said to be almost one-third more expensive (Prinsen Geerligs 1926; Amin 1984:91-2). 63 Amin 1984:89-90. 61 62 37 | Commodities and colonialism white, made by the carbonation process, began to infiltrate the markets of the subcontinent.

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